Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

How to dry and store mushrooms?

You can dry mushrooms and they are a useful addition to the store cupboard. To dry your own, place the mushrooms on racks in a very low oven for several hours or overnight. Large, fleshy flat mushrooms can be sliced before drying. The dried mushrooms are ready for storage when they are dry but still just pliable rather than crisp. If stored in airtight containers, the dried mushrooms can be kept and used for up to 12 months.

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15:59:31 on 05/31/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to store and prepare mushrooms?

Fresh mushrooms have a sponge-like density that either absorbs moisture or sweats it out to become slimy in storage, so it is important to keep them dry. Wrap mushrooms in kitchen paper towels and store in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer.

Washing mushrooms impairs their texture and peeling diminishes their flavor: there is no need to do either. Brush off any surface grit or growing medium with a clean, dry pastry brush or some kitchen paper towel if necessary.

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02:04:18 on 05/30/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between an American muffin, an English muffin and a fairy cake?

Fairy cakes are small buttercakes made by the creaming method and often topped with colored icing. American muffins are a cross between a scone and a fairy cake, but bigger. They are made with a thick batter mixture rather than a dough and are raised with baking powder. American muffins are not as sweet or as rich as fairy cakes.

American use the term 'English muffins', to describe what the English call crumpets; however, the authentic traditional English muffin is different and uses dough made from strong white flour and yeast cooked on a griddle or hot plate. The muffin is torn apart when cooked and eaten immediately with sweet or savory toppings.

American muffins are both quick and easy to make and they are best eaten the day they are baked.

11:51:52 on 05/29/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best fish for mousses?

Fresh salmon is a popular choice because it has a good flavor and an attractive color. It is particularly nice combined with shellfish for a luxurious dinner party starter. Smoked fish such as mackerel, salmon, trout and even kippers work well because they, too, are strongly flavored. They can be combined with some cream, cream cheese, or mayonnaise and lemon to make a rich, tasty mousse.

Remove all the bones before working the flesh in a food processor. The resulting puree should also be checked for small bones before being combined with other ingredients. Fish bones in mousse are unpleasant and can be dangerous.

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04:34:05 on 05/28/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What happened when mousses always separate when chilling?

If you are using gelatin to set the mousse, do not fold the gelatin mixture into the cream until it is cool, as this may cause the mousse to separate. The thickened mixture should be of a similar consistency to the cream before the two are stirred together. Stir the mousse mixture continuously while combining the gelatin mixture with the cream so it does not sink to the bottom, giving a layered effect.

If the mousse is being made with whisked egg white instead of, or as well as, gelatin, fold it in gently so as not to lose the air bubbles which hold up the mousse. If a mousse does separate, there is no remedy. However, it should be perfectly edible, even if it is less attractive then intended.

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11:59:28 on 05/27/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Cooking with millet

Millet can be used to thicken soups, or cooked in milk to make a breakfast cereal or added to breads and teabreads to boost their texture and flavor. While it is not a gourmet ingredient, millet can be tasty and is a good source of proteins as well as carbohydrates. Since Roman times at least, millet has been widely grown in North Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean countries. It is an important food for many of the world's poor, and is often fermented to make beers.

The dried grains are tiny, about the size of a pinhead, and colored pale yellow with a darker brown spot on one side. They swell considerably during cooking so it is important not to add too much to dishes such as soups. Millet flakes cook faster than the whole grains and are also used to thicken soups. Unless whole millet grains are cooked in plenty of liquid, they should be presoaked before cooking.

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15:09:20 on 05/26/08 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

What is the difference between evaporated and condensed milk?

Evaporated milk (available either whole or skimmed) has had its water content reduced so that it is almost twice as concentrated as ordinary milk. Condensed milk is evaporated milk with added sugar, which makes it thicker. Both milks may be used in cooking, but some recipes are clearly better made with one or the other.

The high heat of the canning process gives evaporated milk its very distinctive cooked flavor. Evaporated milk, well-chilled, may be whipped like fresh cream for use in desserts, poured over fruit and other desserts as a topping, or made into a delicious fudge. Condensed milk is rich, thick and syrupy and is especially suited to making toffee and other kinds of confectionery, including the sticky coconut sweetmeats made in India.

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16:32:48 on 05/25/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it alright to freeze milk?

Milk can be frozen in either waxed cartons or plastic containers (not bottles) that allow enough space for expansion. Skim milk freezes better than whole fat milk, which tends to separate on thawing. They can both be frozen for up to a month and then thawed slowly in the refrigerator. If the milk is going to be heated, the thawing process may be speeded up by heating it slowly from frozen.

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09:01:58 on 05/22/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When using skim milk in place of whole milk in recipes, would the reduced-fat content affect the result?

Skim milk has a much thinner consistency than whole milk and a flavor that is less full and rich than whole milk. Skim milk performs acceptably in cooking but the dish will have a thinner flavor. If you would like to give your family a milkshake with less fat but without losing its popular appeal, boost the flavor with fresh fruit.

** Asian Desserts Recipes **

14:56:38 on 05/21/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is buttermilk and what is the substitute to be used in cooking?

Traditional buttermilk is the liquid whey left behind when milk has been churned and all the fat is extracted as butter. Commercial buttermilk is produced by adding a special bacterial culture to either low-fat or skin milk. Buttermilk contains an acid that reacts with bicarbonate of soda and releases gas to raise the dough in soda bread, scones, biscuits and some pancakes. If no buttermilk is available, use half sour cream or yogurt with half fresh milk. Alternatively, you can mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice with fresh milk and the dry ingredients.

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14:17:03 on 05/20/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to use UHT milk in cooking?

UHT, ultra heat treated or long-life milk has been ultra-pasteurized by being heated in a sealed container to 138C for a few seconds. It is packaged in sealed cartons and can be stored without refrigeration for up to three months. The ultra-pasteurization affects the taste, making it less appealing to drink. It is probably best used for cooking, where it will behave just like ordinary milk. Once it is open, UHT milk must be kept in the refrigerator like fresh milk.

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09:18:16 on 05/19/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Arranging Food in a Microwave Oven

What is the best way to arrange food in a microwave oven?

Microwaves are generally focused around the oven edges with less energy present in the center. Arrange individual items around the outside of the turntable in a circular fashion, with thinner parts placed towards the center. Be guided by the instruction manual for your oven and consult microwave cookbooks for good tips and handy information.

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02:01:57 on 05/18/08 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

How to use microwave oven safely?

Do not use metal containers, china with a metallic trim or wire twists as metal may cause damage to the component parts. However, very small pieces of foil can be used, as on a chicken where the wings are cooking too quickly. Secure the foil with toothpicks as it must not touch the walls.

Use only microwave-safe plastic containers. You can use plastic cooking bags designed to withstand roasting or freezing, but make a slit in the bag to allow steam to escape. To cover food, use a perforated plastic lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap folded back at one corner.

Cooking eggs in their shells causes a build-up of pressure and they may explode unless cooked in a special microwave egg-boiler. Foods such as potatoes or apples should be pricked all over for cooking in their skins. Membranes line egg yolks need pricking too.

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16:06:57 on 05/17/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

The good and bad features of a microwave oven

Apart from reheating cooked food, thawing frozen food and cooking raw foods like fish and vegetables, the microwave is an invaluable cook's mate. Use it to soften butter, heat sauces and melt chocolate. Microwaving is very fuel-efficient and fast, taking a quarter to a third of the time needed in conventional cooking. Both oven cleaning and washing up are usually reduced.

As microwaves stop when the oven door is open, and the oven itself is not hot, there is less risk of anyone being burnt. This is especially helpful with children, the elderly and the disabled. The chances of food boiling over or burning are reduced as the oven is set to switch off. Microwaving is also healthier in that less fat, oil and liquid are needed and more nutrients are kept in the food.

Microwave ovens are very useful but have disadvantages with some types of recipes. Anything which needs hot air to rise, such as puff pastry, will fail as the air inside a microwave does not get hot. Roasting is also less successful, but you can brown meat by frying or grilling it briefly before or after microwaving. A combination oven can work as a microwave and convection oven simultaneously, and speeds up cooking while also giving food a brown, crisp finish.

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14:29:10 on 05/16/08 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

How do microwave ovens differ from conventional ovens?

A microwave oven uses an electronic device, the magnetron, to convert electrical energy into high-speed waves. These are deflected off the oven's metal walls directly into food to a depth of about 4 cm. These microwaves are then absorbed by molecules of moisture in the food, causing them to vibrate rapidly, which creates intense cooking heat. With larger pieces of food, the center is cooked by conduction, in the same way as in an ordinary oven.

Microwaves pass through china, glass, paper, pottery and some plastics, but metal deflects the microwaves so metal containers are not suitable to use.

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04:41:19 on 05/15/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to tell if a melon is ripe and sweet?

A ripe melon should give slightly when pressed gently at one end. For rockmelon, press at the stalk end. For honeydew, press at the end opposite the stalk. You should also sniff the melon: a ripe one has a strong scent and there will be little scent if it is unripe. A ripe watermelon sounds hollow when tapped. If buying by the slice, choose those that are bring red with shiny black seeds.

Freezing can dull the flavor of any melon, so adding a little lemon juice will help to sustain the melon flavor.

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13:35:41 on 05/14/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why mince often goes grey and rubbery when cooked?

The most probable explanation for pallid rubbery mince is that you are cooking the meat for too long at a temperature that is too high. For better results, the mince should be started over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan. If you use a pan that is too small the mince will stew in the moisture it exudes as it cooks and the texture will not be as firm as it should be. Stir it to break up any lumps and cook it just until it is no longer raw but has not taken on any color. Then reduce the heat and add the liquid, if you are using any, and continue to cook the meat, keeping it just on the simmering point. The color of mince is also determined by the amount of fat it contains. If it is pale it has more fat; lean mince is darker in color.

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14:14:51 on 05/13/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it safe to cook meat while it is still frozen?

No, meat should always be completely thawed before it is cooked, as otherwise the center may not be cooked by the time the outside of the meat looks done, which could be dangerous. This is especially true of large joints of meat. Whenever possible it is better for meat to thaw slowly in the refrigerator, allowing 6-8 hours per kg for large joints of meat and about 5-6 hours overall for steaks and chops. If you have a microwave oven, follow the instructions.

Another consideration is that the taste and texture of meat, even quite small pieces, cooked from frozen is not very palatable. It is a waste of an expensive item of food to try to cook it without thawing.

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12:08:41 on 05/12/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Using thermometers to determine the doneness of meat

The only way to be absolutely sure that meat has been cooked to your liking is to use a meat thermometer. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the joint, without touching any bones, just before the end of the cooking time. When cooking beef and lamb, the meat will be rare when the temperature reaches 60C, medium rare when it is 71C and well done when the temperature reads 80C. Pork and veal should only be served well done, which means that the temperature should reach 75C for pork, and 71C for veal.

If you do not have a meat thermometer, you can insert a metal skewer into the thickest part of the cooked joint and wait for 30 seconds. If the skewer feels cold to the touch when it is withdrawn, the meat is not done; if it feels warm the meat is rare, and if it is hot the meat is well done.

It is wise to take the resting time into consideration when you are testing for doneness because the meat will continue to cook while it is sitting. This is more important for a piece of meat that you wish to serve rare or medium and less crucial if the meat is going to be eaten when it is well done.

** Cooking Thermometers **

10:13:35 on 05/11/08 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

What is organic meat?

As community concern for the long-term future of agriculture, and the safety of food grows, many tens of thousands of hectares are being converted to organic farming. But it can take years to turn an existing property into an organic farm that conform to government standards. Organically produced meat is a precise term that indicates the animals have been raised on a certified farm which practices environmentally acceptable, strict production techniques. Where the animals are slaughtered off the farm, the abattoir must also be certified.

It is currently difficult to find organic meat due to limited supplies and insufficient consistently good-quality product. However, vacuum-packed organic beef is available from some health food shops. Organic chicken, which is much more readily available is sold by some butchers and most fresh poultry shops.

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12:37:20 on 05/10/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it safe to eat meat that has been cooked rare?

The toxins produced by bacteria prior to cooking are the cause of food poisoning, so storing meat at the correct temperature is the vital factor in food safety. If the meat has been properly stored, it is safe to leave it rare in the center. However, if the meat has been pierced or cut in any way, and in particularly if it has been boned and rolled, bacteria will have been able to enter the meat, so it should be always well cooked right through.

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14:16:45 on 05/09/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which cheaper cuts of meat offer the best value for a family meal?

Those that come from the parts of the animal that have done a certain amount of work, such as the legs, are the best value for money. They have developed flavor but not too much waste in the form of fat, gristle or bone; for example, beef chuck and blade steaks, and top rump or round; lamb shoulder and best end of neck chops; pork hand and spring (from the front leg), spare ribs and cuts of shoulder or blade.

However, because these parts of the animal contain the main muscles, they can be tough. To increase their tenderness, beat them or soak for a few hours in a marinade containing an acid, such as lemon juice, vinegar, wine, natural yogurt or pulped pawpaw. Cook slowly without too much moisture.

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04:37:17 on 05/08/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are more expensive cuts of meat more nutritious or lower in fat?

The nutritional value of all lean meat is absolutely the same no matter what it costs, but weight for weight the cheaper cuts of meat are not quite as good because they contain a smaller amount of nourishing lean meat and more gristle and fat. However, you can buy more of the cheaper cuts for the same money, to allow for wastage, and although they are tough, careful cooking will tenderize them.

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15:00:00 on 05/07/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to choose a good joint of meat?

It should look and smell fresh, the flesh should be silky, not wet, and the fat should be creamy white. Bright red flesh is not necessarily a sign of freshness or of quality, although many people think it is, and some supermarkets even put extra lights over the meat cabinet to make the flesh look a brighter red. Well-hung meat will be darker, and properly aged beef has a purple tinge. Meat with a grayish tinge should always be avoided.

When choosing boned, rolled and tied joints, look for a neat appearance. They should also be of a uniform thickness so that they will cook evenly. If the meat is still on the bones they should have been cleanly sawn through.

All meat, especially chops and steak, should be neat and well trimmed of surplus fat. For superior lean cuts and joints of meat, select Lean beef, Trim lamb and New Fashioned pork.

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11:24:10 on 05/06/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Making mayonnaise without using raw eggs

It is possible to make mayonnaise without using raw eggs. Sauce remoulade is made with hard-boiled egg yolk, which makes it particularly suitable for anyone hesitant about eating raw eggs. Mash a sieved large egg yolk thoroughly, add 1 tablespoon of boiling water and stir it to a smooth paste. Gradually add 250 ml of olive oil, beating the mixture continuously. When the mayonnaise has thickened, add 2 tablespoons each of finely chopped gherkins and parsley, 1 tablespoon of drained capers and a dash of anchovy essence. This sauce is often combined with celeriac.

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09:31:29 on 05/05/08 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

Is one oil any better than the others for making mayonnaise?

Virtually any edible oil, apart from pumpkin seed oil and sesame oil, can be used as long as the flavor and price are acceptable. Olive oil, is the traditional choice, but some people find the flavor too strong. Instead you can use a mix of olive oil and a milder vegetable oil, or try a light olive oil with a little extra virgin for flavor. Alternatively, mix half nut oil and half mild vegetable oil.

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06:45:14 on 05/04/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What to do if mayonnaise begins to separate?

Rescue it by quickly whisking in 1 tablespoon of warm water. If this fails, the mixture can still be salvaged by starting again. Put a fresh egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of cold water or 1 teaspoon of mustard into a clean bowl then very slowly start whisking in the curdled mixture and carry on until it is smooth.

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12:47:43 on 05/03/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How long is it safe to keep homemade mayonnaise?

Homemade mayonnaise will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator. The freshly made mayonnaise should be covered immediately to prevent a skin forming, or transferred to a covered container or screw-top jar. Be sure to label it with the date before storing. The flavor will not be satisfactory if it is not warmed to room temperature by removing it from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Mayonnaise does not freeze well as it almost always curdles.

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13:00:41 on 05/01/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -